Ambika Gupta, a luxe wedding designer from South-India, behind The A-Cube Project was chosen by actor Kajal Aggarwal’s family to create a bespoke wedding experience. Ambika and her team designed the entire wedding around the theme, 'Kashmir to Kanyakumari.'
Ambika who founded The A-Cube Project over eight years ago in Delhi and then rooted it in Chennai, is a Bio- tech engineer, has a Master's degree in Mass Communication but found her calling as a much-in-demand designer of weddings in India and at international locations like Thailand, Belgrade, Bahrain and more.
One challenge Ambika had to work around was the post COVID-19 scenario and she says, "Kajal and her family were extremely particular about safety and we rigorously followed all protocols without compromising on the aesthetics and the keen eye for detail, they wanted. We observed COVID-19 precautions as specified by the Maharashtra government and the 60-70 guests and members of the crew who were present at the wedding had to go through health clearances beforehand."
How Kajal discovered the Chennai-based Ambika is also an interesting story. "It was completely serendipitous. Kajal's sister Nisha took a brief look at my portfolio, and after a few calls and meetings we were on. Not a flashy person herself, Kajal wanted her wedding to be understated but elegant. Keeping that in mind and noticing their roots in the respective cultural legacies that she and her husband share, I came up with the complete idea. During the question-answer round Gautam told me that he is from Kashmir and hence I came up with the 'Kashmir to Kanyakumari' theme and we brought it all to life in just over 35 days,” says Ambika.
Drawing from diverse cultural references, Ambika ideated and designed the ambience of 'Brijwasi Krishna bagh', a Radha and Krishna themed Puja at Kajal’s home where the divine bond of the eternal couple was depicted against a pastoral backdrop evoking Vrindavan with swings, a floral arch dotted with peonies in shades of pink, stunning origami birds and brass bells hanging from a tree, complemented with peacock feathers, flutes and floral details.
For the Haldi and Mehendi, Soufflé S’il Vous Plaît, an otherwise tropical French bistro at Churchgate was transformed into a Kitsch Mandi as a tribute to the artisans of India who have been hit hard by the onset of COVID-19."Kajal wore a specially handcrafted weave by madhuraya creations, which is an initiative to support weavers and revive traditional crafts. She has a soft spot for the unsung weavers of India and her wedding was the perfect opportunity to give back to them in some way,” says Ambika.
Since Kajal has always urged her fans and followers to support small businesses, she walked the talk and urged us to convert the French ambience into an authentic artisanal experience.
“We curated and designed a backdrop made of 'Pettis,' or traditional contraptions used by coconut tree climbers. Handmade with love by tree climbers of Kadamba Vanam farms in Parmenkenni, Tamil Nadu and hand-painted by local artists, we bought them from the farmers itself & that was a beautiful way to support the farmers in these hard times. Other aspects that drew attention too were the Kutch workmanship in furnishings, traditional dry palm weaves all round, also a Chettinad console and brass pots with banana leaves.
The wedding venue was the Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai where Kashmiri design details were incorporated as a special, heartfelt nod to Kajal's husband Gautam's heritage who is from the region. The theme was 'Shikara - Voyage of Love' and it drew from the idyllic and serene beauty of Kashmir, by mirroring mountain ranges and the majestic Dal Lake. Ambika recalls, "The mandap was majestic and reminiscent of a pyramid. This was an ode to hilly terrains of Kashmir and also representative of the merging of the self and the soul. It was held together by gold frames and translucent baby pink screens. The mandap also bore intricate details of a Shikara, with panelling reminiscent of Kashmir’s houseboats with their wooden 'jaalis.' Adding to the warmth were powder blue pashmina embroidery pieces captured in diamond set frames. Each guest was given a silver bell with a personalised note."
In the end, everyone enjoyed the intimate scale of the wedding along with the layered beauty of each design detail and for Ambika, the experience was even more rewarding because of her client. She says, "Kajal is an extremely down-to-earth person and her entire family was wonderfully sweet and warm. Kajal and her family is really sweet and treated all of us like an extended part of the family. My biggest take away from this wedding has been the personal bond I developed with the family. It has only hit me post the wedding that I actually did a celebrity wedding.”